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Technical Paper

A Study of Flame Development and Engine Performance with Breakdown Ignition Systems in a Visualization Engine

A conventional coil ignition system and two breakdown ignition systems with different electrode configurations were compared in M.I.T.'s transparent square piston engine. The purpose was to gain a deeper understanding of how the breakdown and glow discharge phases affect flame development and engine performance. The engine was operated with a standard intake valve and with a shrouded intake valve to vary the characteristic burning rate of the engine. Cylinder pressure data were used to characterize the ignition-system performance. A newly developed schlieren system which provides two orthogonal views of the developing flame was used to define the initial flame growth process. The study shows that ignition systems with higher breakdown energy achieve a faster flame growth during the first 0.5 ms after spark onset for all conditions studied.
Technical Paper

Combustion Optimization in a Hydrogen-Enhanced Lean-Burn SI Engine

As part of ongoing research on hydrogen-enhanced lean burn SI engines, this paper details an experimental combustion system optimization program. Experiments focused on three key areas: the ignition system, in-cylinder charge motion produced by changes in the inlet ports, and uniformity of fuel-air mixture preparation. Hydrogen enhancement is obtained with a H2, CO, N2 mixture produced by a fuel reformer such as the plasmatron. The ignition system tests compared a standard inductive coil scheme against high-energy discharge systems. Charge motion experiments focused on the impact of different flow and turbulence patterns generated within the cylinder by restrictor plates at the intake port entrance, as well as novel inlet flow modification cones. The in-cylinder fluid motion generated by each configuration was characterized using swirl and tumble flow benches. Mixture preparation tests compared a standard single-hole pintle port fuel injector against a fine atomizing 12-hole injector.
Technical Paper

Current Developments in Spark-Ignition Engines

This paper reviews the major changes that have occurred in spark-ignition engine design and operation over the last two decades. The automobile air pollution problem, automobile emission standards, and automobile fuel economy standards -- the factors which have and are producing these changes -- are briefly described. The major components in spark-ignition engine emission control systems are outlined, and advances in carburetion, fuel injection, ignition systems, spark retard and exhaust gas recycle strategies, and catalytic converters, are reviewed. The impact of these emission controls on vehicle fuel economy is assessed. The potential for fuel economy improvements in conventional spark-ignition engines is examined, and promising developments in improved engine and vehicle matching are outlined.
Technical Paper

End-Gas Temperature Measurements in a DOHC Spark-Ignition Engine Using CARS

CARS temperature measurements were carried out both in a constant volume combustion chamber and in a spark-ignition engine. The CARS temperature measurement under engine-like condition was validated by comparing the unburned gas temperatures for premixed propane-air flame in a constant volume combustion chamber obtained by CARS with predicted temperatures of 2-zone flame propagation simulation model. There was good agreement between the predicted temperatures and the mean values of 10 CARS measurements. The standard deviation of 10 measurements at each measuring timing was about ±40 K. End-gas temperatures were measured by CARS technique in a conventional 4-cylinder DOHC spark-ignition engine with the engine motoring and firing. The measured motoring temperature matched well with the adiabatic core temperature calculated from the measured cylinder pressure. The engine was fueled with primary reference fuel (PRF80) of 80% iso-octane and 20% n-heptane by volume.
Technical Paper

How Heat Losses to the Spark Plug Electrodes Affect Flame Kernel Development in an SI-Engine

A conventional spark plug and a spark plug with smaller electrodes were studied in M.I.T.'s transparent square piston engine. The purpose was to learn more about how the electrode geometry affects the heat losses to the electrodes and the electrical performance of the ignition system, and how this affects the flame development process in an engine. A schlieren system which provides two orthogonal views of the developing flame was used to define the initial flame growth process, for as many as 100 consecutive cycles. Voltage and current waveforms were recorded to characterize the spark discharge, and cylinder pressure data were used to characterize the engine performance. The spark plug with the smaller electrodes was shown to reduce the heat losses to the electrodes, and thereby extend the stable operating regime of the engine. At conditions close to the stable operating limit, cycle-by-cycle variations in heat losses cause significant cyclic variations in flame development.